Enter Gloucester and Edgar in peasant's clothes
When shall I come to the top of that same hill?
You do climb up it now. Look how we labour.
Methinks the ground is even.
Hark, do you hear the sea?
Why then your other senses grow imperfect
By your eyes' anguish.
So may it be indeed.
Methinks thy voice is altered, and thou speak'st
In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
Y'are much deceived. In nothing am I changed
But in my garments.
Methinks y'are better spoken.
Come on, sir; here's the place. Stand still! How fearful
And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
Hangs one that gathers sampire – dreadful trade!
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
The fishermen that walk upon the beach
Appear like mice, and yon tall anchoring bark,
Diminished to her cock; her cock, a buoy
Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge
That on th' unnumbered idle pebble chafes
Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more,
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
turn (v.) 8
spin round, whirl about, go round and round
Topple down headlong.
Set me where you stand.
Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
Of th' extreme verge. For all beneath the moon
Would I not leap upright.
Let go my hand.
Here, friend, 's another purse; in it a jewel
Well worth a poor man's taking. Fairies and gods
Prosper it with thee! Go thou further off.
Bid me farewell; and let me hear thee going.
Now fare ye well, good sir.
With all my heart.
Why I do trifle thus with his despair
Is done to cure it.
O you mighty gods!
This world I do renounce, and in your sights
Shake patiently my great affliction off.
If I could bear it longer and not fall
To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
My snuff and loathed part of nature should
Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!
Now, fellow, fare thee well.
Gone, sir. Farewell.
Gloucester throws himself forward
And yet I know not how conceit may rob
The treasury of life, when life itself
Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought,
By this had thought been past. – Alive or dead?
Ho, you, sir! Friend! Hear you, sir? Speak! –
Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives –
What are you, sir?
Away, and let me die.
Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
So many fathom down precipitating,
Thou'dst shivered like an egg; but thou dost breathe,
Hast heavy substance, bleed'st not, speak'st, art sound.
Ten masts at each make not the altitude
Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
Thy life's a miracle. Speak yet again.
But have I fallen or no?
From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
Look up a-height. The shrill-gorged lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.
Alack, I have no eyes.
Is wretchedness deprived that benefit
To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort
When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage
And frustrate his proud will.
Give me your arm.
Up – so. How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.
Too well, too well.
This is above all strangeness.
Upon the crown o'the cliff what thing was that
Which parted from you?
A poor unfortunate beggar.
As I stood here below methought his eyes
Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
Horns welked and waved like the enridged sea.
It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee.
I do remember now. Henceforth I'll bear
Affliction till it do cry out itself
‘ Enough, enough,’ and die. That thing you speak of,
I took it for a man; often 'twould say
‘ The fiend, the fiend;’ he led me to that place.
Bear free and patient thoughts.
Enter Lear fantastically dressed with wild flowers
But who comes here?
The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus.
No, they cannot touch me for coining.; I am the
O thou side-piercing sight!
Nature's above art in that respect. There's your
nature (n.) 6
natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]
press-money. – That fellow handles his bow like a
crow-keeper. – Draw me a clothier's yard. – Look, look, a
yard [36 inches / c.90 cm] by which clothiers measured their cloth
mouse! – Peace, peace! this piece of toasted cheese will
do't. – There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant. –
Bring up the brown bills. – O, well flown, bird! I'the
bill (n.) 1
[applied to various kinds of long-handled spear-like weapon] halberd; bill-hook
See Topics: Weapons
clout, i' the clout! Hewgh! – Give the word.
clout (n.) 2
[archery] pin fixing a target, cloth patch at the centre of a target; mark, bull
I know that voice.
He falls to his knees
Ha! Gonerill with a white beard! They flattered me
like a dog and told me I had the white hairs in my beard.
ere the black ones were there. To say ‘ ay ’ and ‘ no ’ to
everything that I said! ‘Ay' and ‘no' too was no good
divinity. When the rain came to wet me once and the
wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not
peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt
'em out. Go to, they are not men o' their words. They
told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie: I am not
The trick of that voice I do well remember.
trick (n.) 3
peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, distinguishing trait
Is't not the King?
Ay, every inch a king.
When I do stare see how the subject quakes.
I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause?
cause (n.) 5
court case, legal action, matter before the court
Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No.
The wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
Does lecher in my sight.
Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester's bastard son
Was kinder to his father than my daughters
Got 'tween the lawful sheets.
To't, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.
Behold yon simpering dame
Whose face between her forks presages snow,
That minces virtue and does shake the head
mince (v.) 3
suggest by walking pretentiously, give an affected impression of
To hear of pleasure's name –
The fitchew nor the soiled horse goes to't
With a more riotous appetite.
Down from the waist they are centaurs,
Though women all above;
But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
Beneath is all the fiends' –
There's hell, there's darkness, there is the sulphurous
pit – burning, scalding, stench, consumption! Fie, fie,
fie! Pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary,
type of musky perfume [obtained form the civet cat]
sweeten my imagination. There's money for
He gives flowers
O, let me kiss that hand!
Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
O ruined piece of nature! This great world
Shall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?
I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou
squiny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid; I'll not
love. Read thou this challenge; mark but the penning
Were all the letters suns, I could not see.
I would not take this from report. It is;
And my heart breaks at it.
What, with the case of eyes?
O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head,
nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy
case, your purse in a light; yet you see how this world
I see it feelingly.
What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes
with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how yon justice
rails upon yon simple thief. Hark in thine ear – change
places and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is
choose, make your choice [from the children's game: choosing which hand holds an object]
the thief? Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a
And the creature run from the cur? There thou
mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog's
obeyed in office.
Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand.
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thy own back.
Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
money-lender, one who charges excessive interest
Thorough tattered clothes great vices do appear;
Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sins with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.
None does offend, none, I say, none; I'll able 'em.
Take that of me, my friend, (giving flowers) who have the power
To seal th' accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes,
And like a scurvy politician seem
To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now!
Pull off my boots. Harder, harder – so.
O matter and impertinency mixed,
Reason in madness!
If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.
Thou must be patient; we came crying hither.
Thou knowest the first time that we smell the air
We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee – Mark!
He takes off his coronet of flowers
Alack, alack the day!
When we are born we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools. – This's a good block.
It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
A troop of horse with felt. I'll put 't in proof;
And when I have stolen upon these son-in-laws,
Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!
He throws down his flowers and stamps on them
Enter a Gentleman and two attendants. Gloucester
and Edgar draw back
O, here he is. Lay hand upon him. – Sir,
Your most dear daughter –
No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;
You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
I am cut to the brains.
You shall have anything.
No seconds? All myself?
Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
To use his eyes for garden water-pots,
Ay, and laying autumn's dust. I will die bravely,
Like a smug bridegroom. What! I will be jovial.
Come, come, I am a king; masters, know you that?
You are a royal one, and we obey you.
Then there's life in't. Nay, and you get it you shall
get it by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.
Exit running, followed by attendants
A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
Past speaking of in a king. – Thou hast one daughter
Who redeems nature from the general curse
Which twain have brought her to.
Hail, gentle sir.
Sir, speed you; what's your will?
Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
Most sure and vulgar. Everyone hears that
Which can distinguish sound.
But, by your favour,
How near's the other army?
Near, and on speedy foot. The main descry
sighting, spotting, discovery of what is distant
Stands on the hourly thought.
I thank you, sir; that's all.
Though that the Queen on special cause is here,
Her army is moved on.
I thank you, sir.
You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me.
Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
To die before you please.
Well pray you, father.
Now, good sir, what are you?
A most poor man made tame to fortune's blows,
Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand,
I'll lead you to some biding.
The bounty and the benison of heaven
To boot, and boot!
A proclaimed prize! Most happy!
That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
Briefly thyself remember; the sword is out
That must destroy thee.
Now let thy friendly hand
Put strength enough to't.
Wherefore, bold peasant,
Darest thou support a published traitor? Hence,
Lest that th' infection of his fortune take
Like hold on thee. Let go his arm!
Ch'ill not let go, zir, without vurther 'cagion.
Let go, slave, or thou diest!
Good gentleman, go your gait and let poor volk
pass. And 'choud ha' bin zwaggered out of my life,
'twould not ha' bin zo long as 'tis by a vortnight. Nay,
come not near th' old man; keep out, che vor' ye, or I'ce
try whether your costard or my ballow be the harder.
'Chill be plain with you.
'Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come; no matter vor
Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body
And give the letters which thou find'st about me
To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out
Upon the English party. O, untimely
Death! – Death –
I know thee well: a serviceable villain,
As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
As badness would desire.
What, is he dead?
Sit you down, father; rest you. –
Let's see these pockets. The letters that he speaks of
May be my friends. He's dead. I am only sorry
He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
Leave, gentle wax; and manners blame us not;
To know our enemies' minds we rip their hearts;
Their papers is more lawful.
(He reads the letter)
Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have many
opportunities to cut him off; if your will want not, time and
place will be fruitfully offered. There is nothing done if he
return the conqueror. Then am I the prisoner, and his bed
my gaol; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me and
supply the place for your labour.
Your – wife, so I would say – affectionate servant,
O indistinguished space of woman's will!
A plot upon her virtuous husband's life,
And the exchange, my brother! Here in the sands
Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
Of murderous lechers; and in the mature time
With this ungracious paper strike the sight
Of the death-practised Duke. For him 'tis well
That of thy death and business I can tell.
The King is mad; how stiff is my vile sense,
That I stand up and have ingenious feeling
Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract;
So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs,
And woes by wrong imaginations lose
The knowledge of themselves.
Drum afar off
Give me your hand.
Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend.